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Supplement Industry Responds to McCain Bill

The news for the U.S. dietary supplement industry was huge Wednesday: Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, and Senator Byron Dorgan, D-North Dakota, unveiled a bill that would ramp up regulatory oversight of the entire $25 billion U.S. dietary supplement industry—from suppliers to manufacturers and marketers to retailers. Part of the impetus for the bill, named the Dietary Supplement Safety Act of 2010, are the numerous illegal steroids and drugs being sold as sports supplements. The bill is being championed by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) and sporting leagues, including Major League Baseball.

“Like many of you, I am looking forward to watching the Super Bowl this Sunday and the Winter Olympics later this month,” said McCain, who was surrounded by celebrity athletes from skiing, swimming, cycling, baseball and football during the press conference announcing the bill. “However, a little over a year ago the NFL suspended six players, including two players from one of the teams competing this Sunday, for violating the league’s anti-doping policy.”

Kimberly Lord Stewart, editorial director of Nutrition Business Journal’s sister publication Functional Ingredients, summarizes the proposed bill and the changes it would deliver to the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA) of 1994 in a story posted on the magazine’s Website.

Immediately following the introduction of the bill, the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN), the Natural Products Association (NPA) and the American Herbal Products Association (AHPA) released statements.

“CRN looks forward to the opportunity to study the legislation and find common ground with the sponsors and supporters of this legislation,” said CRN President and CEO Steve Mister. “Where specific provisions are extensions of positions we have already supported and lobbied for, we applaud more voices joining with ours.”

"Our industry has long supported efforts to remove the relatively few bad actors who market adulterated products,” said John Gay, NPA executive director and CEO. “We have advocated for additional enforcement funds for regulators, and for giving regulators additional authority to act. What we cannot support is wholesale changes to a regulatory structure that is working, and could work better if the measures we have supported were adopted. A series of new laws for criminals to ignore is not the answer.”

“Though we have not yet examined this bill completely, it places new burdens on dietary supplements that are not required for any other class of food,” said AHPA President Michael McGuffin. “And at least in the case of the proposed policing responsibility for retailers, it appears to be more stringent than retailer requirements under current drug laws.”

NBJ will follow up in next week’s e-newsletter (which publishes on Tuesday) with an analysis of what such regulatory changes could mean for U.S. dietary supplement sales in the short and long-term. Sign up for our free weekly e-newsletter via the NBJ Website.

Functional Ingredients magazine will publish a podcast discussing the proposed bill with CRN on its Website later today.

Related NBJ links:

NFL Suspends 6 Players for Banned Substance, Balanced Health Products Recalls Supplements

2009 Supplement Business Report

Is USADA’s ‘Supplement Safety Now’ Campaign a Threat to the DSHEA?

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